The Maps That Make Us

Personal essays about the power of maps in shaping our lives.

a photo illustration of a pictorial map of Los Angeles

The Amazing Pictorial Map That Captured the Soul of Los Angeles

Meet Joseph Jacinto Mora, the king of California pictorial cartography.

a photo illustration of a London Tube map from 1977

I Found My Mother With This London Tube Map From 1977

As a newly arrived immigrant from India, my mother used this London subway transit map to understand an unfamiliar city. Today, I use it to understand her.

an illustration depicting Tel Aviv in the 1920s

Mapping My Life Through a Changing Tel Aviv

Growing up in Israel, I relied on landmarks to navigate; today’s residents rely on smartphones. But what are they missing?

A Love Story in Three Maps

My relationship has unfolded across three cities. But now my boyfriend and I are heading into uncharted territory.

an illustration depicting the 1527 "Carta Marina" map

The Renaissance Map That Filled My Childhood With Monsters

Growing up amid the political conflict in Northern Ireland, a 16th-century map that blended real and mythical monsters spoke to my fears and fascinations.

On Google Maps, a Town Called Atlas Keeps Disappearing

There’s proof that Atlas, Illinois, exists, and that I was once there. But its namesake grows more appropriate as the town declines.

We Heard You Like Maps So We Made You a Playlist

Songs about maps cross all genres and emotions. Got ideas for music to add to our playlist? Leave them in the comments or tag us on Twitter.

The Children’s Book Map That Led Me Out of Depression

As a child, I loved the fantastical lands from The Phantom Tollbooth. As a troubled college student, I used them as a roadmap to self-acceptance.

Has a Map Changed Your Life? Tell Us About It.

As part of our series The Maps That Make Us, we’re asking readers to share mini-essays about a map that is especially important.

an illustration depicting a map of the Rio Grande river

Between Texas and Mexico, a Restless Border Defies the Map

In El Paso, we call it the Rio Grande; our neighbors in Juárez know it as Río Bravo. It’s supposed to be a national border, but the river had its own ideas.

The Map That Made Los Angeles Make Sense

For generations in Southern California, the Thomas Guide led drivers through the streets of Los Angeles. Now apps do that. Did something get lost along the way?

A photo-illustration of a map of San Francisco

What Are the Maps That Make Us?

Introducing a new CityLab series of personal essays on the power of maps in shaping our private and public lives.